Motherhood & Words

It’s hard to believe that Zoe is already 8 weeks old. I’m not sure exactly how big she is, but it’s somewhere around 11 pounds. She seems huge, wearing clothes that Stella wore when she was five months old! As hard as these infants months are for me, I feel myself grasping, trying to hold on to certain moments. How can I want time to move faster and slower all at once? How can I want to hold her forever in my arms at the same time I want her to learn to take a bottle, to give me a little breathing room?

I know these conflicting emotions have something to do with the fact that this is it for us, our last baby. And knowing this makes me want to somehow preserve the moments I love: holding Zoe to my chest as she sleeps, staring into her smiling eyes, pressing my lips to her so-soft temple.

This makes me think of Deborah Garrison’s poem “Square and Round” from The Second Child.

It begins:

You moments I court —

Back of the head settled
in arm’s crook,
rump in my palm,
the whole half of a body
just the length of my forearm,
small face twitching toward
repose. From the window
lamplight or moonlight slides
on the creamy forehead,
the new-bulb smoothness
at the temples both squared
and rounding, the flickering play
of shapes suggesting, mysteriously,
intelligence within…

It ends:

What was it, just
then, I swore to myself
I’d keep?

As though I could hold
a magnifying glass
to time

and slow its shaping

I love this poem. I love the whole collection.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. sista gp on May 1, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Ahh, the memories. Here are some of my son’s stats.
    8 lb 12 oz Birth
    10 lb 13 oz 1 month
    12 lb 8 oz 2 months
    17 lb 7 oz 4 months
    21 lb 0 oz 6 months
    21 lb 12 oz 9 months
    23 lb 4 oz 10 months
    25 lb 2 oz 12 months
    33 lb 2 oz 24 months

    Enjoy those precious moments as long as you can. Time flies so fast.

  2. Jennifer on May 2, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Oh that’s a wonderful poem, thank you for posting it.

    My second – five months old – will also be my last and I already I find myself sometimes thinking, when I see a tiny newborn, that I’ll never have one that small again. Usually with longing, though sometimes with much relief.

  3. Ines on May 2, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    (I am trying this again, on my first attempt I got a “unable to post your comment…)”
    I live in the dichotomy of feelings you describe. For me it is one day lasting one year or one second.